Religion and Ritual in the Upper Palaeolithic

Paul G. Bahn

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Religion and Ritual in the Upper Palaeolithic

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This article discusses the archaeology of religion and ritual in the Upper Paleolithic, covering burials, portable art, cave art, and cave activities. It argues that one can rarely be sure that any aspect of the material culture of the Upper Palaeolithic is linked to religion or ritual. It is inaccessibility of different kinds which seems to be the crucial factor in most of the ‘private’ art. Indeed, one often has the impression that it was the overcoming of obstacles, the suffering of discomforts and dangers, which was more important than the actual images produced — or that it was the process of journeying to a location and leaving an image there which counted, rather than the image itself, or its appearance, degree of completeness, or durability. There was clearly a tremendously strong motivation behind this phenomenon, which must have been ‘religious’ in some way.

Keywords: material culture; archaeology; burials; portable art; cave art; cave activities

Article.  6527 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Prehistoric Archaeology

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